Originally Posted on January 6, 2016
Vivian Cheng, 47, ordered to pay victims $500K as result of today’s guilty plea
LOWER MANHATTAN – Today, Council Member Margaret Chin thanked Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance for securing the conviction of a travel agent who scammed thousands of dollars from members of the Chinese community.
Vivian Cheng, 47, pleaded guilty today to two counts of Grand Larceny in the 3rd Degree and three counts of Scheme to Defraud in the 1st Degree. As part of her plea agreement, Cheng was ordered to pay $500,000 in restitution to victims. She is scheduled to be back in court on April 20.
“I am grateful to DA Vance and his staff for holding this travel scammer accountable for taking advantage of members of the Chinese community – many of whom are my constituents,” Council Member Chin said. “My office was happy to help prosecutors by taking interviews at our District Office, and will continue to assist in any other efforts to bring lawbreakers to justice. It is my hope that victims of this scam get restitution as soon as possible. I urge people to protect themselves by demanding receipts for all major purchases to ensure that, in the event they become victims of a scam, they are in the best position to get back their hard-earned money.”
According to prosecutors, Cheng stole from and defrauded customers of Bestway Travel, a Chinatown-based travel agency owned and operated by the defendant.
In some cases, the defendant purchased one-way tickets for travelers who paid Cheng for roundtrip fare, leaving many victims stranded abroad in Asia with no way of returning to the U.S. Many of these victims were elderly individuals who were forced to pay additional fees to return home, on top of what had already been paid to Cheng.
Assistant District Attorney Rosemary Yu handled the prosecution of the case.